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Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin rules out truce with Israel (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) GAZA CITY 09/24/03 8:19 PM ET) Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1504&ncid=1504&e=5&u=/afp/20030925/ts_afp/mideast_palestinians_030925001927
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GAZA CITY (AFP) - Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin ruled out any prospect of a truce while Israel continues its "aggression" against the Palestinian people.
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"Today is not the time to speak of a truce while the enemy continues its aggression," Yassin said in a press conference here on Wednesday, his first since he survived an Israeli assassination attempt on September 6.
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He said the question of a truce, which was proposed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last week, had not been raised during recent talks between Hamas and Palestinian prime minister-designate Ahmed Qorei.
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Arafat said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot last week that Hamas had shown "a positive attitude" towards the idea of signing up to a truce with Israel.
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Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad called off a seven-week-old truce on August 22 after the assassination of Hamas co-founder Ismail Abu Shanab.
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The truce had already been effectively shattered by a Hamas suicide attack three days earlier on a bus in Jerusalem, which killed 23 people.
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"In spite of the truce, the Israeli enemy did not stop its aggression, its massacres and its destructions for one moment," added Yassin, who is confined to a wheelchair.
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The cleric also ruled out joining a government under Qorei.
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"Our objective is not to join the government but to liberate our land and the Palestinian people."
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The wheelchair-bound cleric, along with other senior Hamas leaders, had been keeping a low-profile in recent days for fear of being the target of Israeli air strikes.
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Yassin was slightly injured in the assassination attempt that came after Israel declared "all-out war" on Hamas.
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Asked about a declaration by Qorei that he planned to end the "mess" of illegal weapons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yassin said his movement would refuse to surrender its arms to the Palestinian Authority.
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"Our people carry their weapons to defend themselves and nobody can take away these arms before the liberation of our land and holy sites," he said.
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Yassin also condemned US President George W. Bush, who in an address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday said "Arab nations must cut off funding and other support for terrorist organizations", such as Hamas.
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"In the eyes of Bush, terrorism is embodied by Islam and Muslims. But he must understand that believers are not worried by threats and that Islam is stronger than Bush and his country and that Islam will be victorious." (Copyright © 2003 Agence France Presse. 09/24/03)
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